Bishop Calls Cloning Claims "Disturbing"

Says Alleged Actions Are "Deeply Repugnant"

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LANCASTER, England, APRIL 24, 2009 (Zenit.org).- A British bishop is calling the claims of an American researcher that he has created cloned human embryos and implanted them in four women "deeply disturbing."



In a statement released today, Bishop Patrick O’Donoghue of Lancaster warned of the increasing tendency to manipulate human life. He said that if Dr. Panayiotis Zavos has done what he has claimed, his "actions are deeply repugnant for the future of humanity."

The doctor made claims this week that he cloned 14 human embryos and transferred 11 of them into four women. Although none of the embryos survived long enough to achieve a viable pregnancy, Zavos told the media that it will be possible to have a cloned human baby within the next few years.

His work is being carried out at a secret laboratory in an undisclosed country. It's a crime in most countries to transfer cloned embryos into a human womb.

"Cloning entails manipulating human life in ever more invasive ways, and this will lead to 'making embryos to order,' as well as other more and more serious abuses," said Bishop O’Donoghue.

He noted that while it's widely held as unacceptable to transfer cloned embryos to the womb, "those who support destructive embryo research while criticizing Zavos are laying themselves open to a charge of hypocrisy."

"The approach that is often taken in Britain is to say firstly that embryo research should be allowed and secondly that it can be strictly controlled," said Bishop O’Donoghue. "This is wrong on both counts.   

"Embryo research which entails deliberately killing human embryos should never be allowed, and experience shows that once this key ethical principle is breached, it leads in turn to relentless demand for more and more embryos to be used in ever more debasing ways."

The bishop added that while most condemn the actions of Zavos as "irresponsible" because of the possibility of creating children with "serious physical, mental or psychological problems," a fundamental objection to cloning remains: "It [cloning] creates a dislocation in the human family; it removes the begetting of children from its true context -- the fruit of mutual self-giving in marriage -- and turns human children into a manufactured product."

The Human Fertilization and Embryology Act 2008 extended the permissible creation and use of human embryos in the United Kingdom, formally allowing the creation of “savior siblings,” cloned embryos for research (including embryo stem-cell research) and inter-species embryos.

It also removed the requirement that in-vitro fertilization practitioners should have regard to the child’s need for a father.

The most recent instruction from the Vatican on the subject, "Dignitas Personae," re-stated the Catholic Church’s clear opposition to “assisted reproductive technologies” and the need to protect and promote the rights the human embryo from the time of conception.